Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story Review: Gagan Dev Riar gives terrific performance but show lacks charm of part one

Planning to watch Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story this weekend? Read Pinkvilla’s review of this Hansal Mehta and Tushar Hiranandani backed show.

Avinash Lohana
Written by Avinash Lohana , Journalist
Updated on Sep 01, 2023 | 10:28 AM IST | 235.8K
Pic Credit: Sony LIV / YouTube
Scam 2003 Review: Gagan Dev Riar gives terrific performance but show lacks charm of part one (Pic Credit: Sony LIV / YouTube)
Key Highlight

Name: Scam 2003: The Telgi Story

Director: Tushar Hiranandani

Cast: Gagan Dev Riar

The toughest part about making a second installment in a franchise is meeting expectations, and even more if the first part was a humongous success, which it was in case of Hansal Mehta and Jai Mehta’s Pratik Gandhi led Scam 1992. Now, almost three years later, this Applause Entertainment, Studio NEXT and SonyLIV backed Scam franchise has returned with a new story revolving around Abdul Karim Telgi - the man behind India's biggest stamp paper scam. While Hasal has returned as a showrunner this time, filmmaker Tushar Hiranandani has directed Scam 2003 - The Telgi Story. Since both stories are bracketed under the same franchise, comparisons are bound to happen. Now does it live up to the standard set by the first part? Read on to find out…

Plot

Abdul Karim Telgi is an ambitious and an educated man, who wants to make it big in life but circumstances don’t allow him to prosper, until the day when he gets an opportunity to move to Mumbai. After shifting to the Maximum City, he sees his life change, and later even moves to the Gulf with an intention to make more money. However, a few years later destiny brings him back to the country - and this time he returns with an aim to not earn money, but to mint it. That’s how he starts his counterfeiting career, initially by making fake passports, and then moving on to the big game of counterfeiting stamp papers in bulk quantities. What happens next is for you to see in the show. 

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What’s Hot? 

Inspired by real life events and Sanjay Singh’s book - Telgi Scam: Reporter Ki Diary, the first sequence of Scam 2003 - The Telgi Story, absorbs you into this world of crime penned by writers Kiran Yadnyopavit, Kedar Patankar and Karan Vyas. As a viewer, one of the biggest expectations from a crime-drama is a fast paced, thrilling narrative, which the show promises in the first episode with the story swiftly moving from one important juncture to the other. Kudos to the makers for doing that with the opening episode, as it helps to retain and sustain your audience. 

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Using the original title theme of Scam 1992 created by Achint Thakkar, was a smart move as it immediately helps the audience recollect the brilliance of the first part, which in turn benefits the second installment in the franchise. Furthermore, the show is set in a bygone era, and cinematographer Stanley Mudda’s lens along with production designer Madhusudan N’s art manages to take you back to that time. While costume designer Arun J Chauhan does justice to his assignment, Mukesh Chhabra’s casting is bang on. 

What’s Not?

The show tends to lose its pace in the second and the third episodes, making the overall narrative far less engaging. Hiranandani has tried to fit in a lot of layers, and then explain many of them, which takes away from the charm of an interesting crime-thriller. The pace picks up again from the fourth episode in this 5 episode series that the makers have released in volume 1 of Scam 2003 - The Telgi Story, but I do believe these episodes could have been more concise and crisp. 

Dialogue written by Karan Vyas is average, barring a few lines, and the cliffhanger at the end of the fifth episode is a weak narrative point to stop, as it does not really seem like an impossible or a hard hurdle for Abdul Karim Telgi to overcome in volume 2. 

Performances

Gagan Dev Riar is phenomenal as Abdul Karim Telgi, and is bound to get a lot of applause for his convincing performance in Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story. One can see the sincerity in his act, and the fact that he was really having a great time playing the character. Other supporting cast, including Bhavana Balsavar, Bharat Jadhav, Shashank Ketkar and Sameer Dharmadhikari, have all lived up to their parts. 

Final Verdict

Scam 2003 – The Telgi Story is sincere in its approach and manages to bring alive the world of Telgi with this crime drama, but it does lack the charm of its predecessor - Scam 1992. Hansal Mehta had humanized the character of Harshad Mehta, which allowed the audience to connect to his journey, especially his mistakes. I missed that treatment in Abdul Karim Telgi’s story.

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